Do I have pink eye?
The term “pink eye” is a commonly used term for conjunctivitis, an infection and inflammation of the thin membrane that covers the entire front of the eye. Pink eye can lead to serious complications if not treated and is highly contagious. If you think you have pink eye, please contact your eye doctor or optometrist immediately to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
What are the symptoms of pink eye?
Pain and irritation are common, early signs of pink eye. The eyeball has a thin membrane layer on its surface called the conjunctiva. When this membrane becomes infected, it begins to break down. Very similar to a tooth with a cavity becoming temperature sensitive, the membrane breakdown can cause even simple air exposure to be painful. People suffering with pink eye can also develop extreme light sensitivity.
Pink eyes’ name comes from the tell-tale redness that typically covers the entire eye making it look pink from a distance. Excessive tearing, yellow discharge, itchiness, inability to blink without pain, runny nose, and general discomfort of the eye are all other symptoms associated with pink eye.
Symptoms of pink eye can progress very quickly and is usually highly contagious. It is important to see an eye doctor right away if you think you have it. Many people do a poor job of containing the infection, making it easy to spread it amongst family, friends, and coworkers. Though tempting to rub your eyes when they hurt, do not do this with your exposed fingers. If necessary, use a tissue and dispose of it immediately to avoid spreading the infection.
What are the different types of conjunctivitis?
There are three different types of conjunctivitis. Due to their tendency to make people rub their eyes, two forms of pink-eye are very contagious. The virus or bacteria is spread to their hands, which is then passed onto everything they touch (including their other eye which might not be infected).
Bacterial conjunctivitis is the most common type of pink eye. Bacterial conjunctivitis happens when bacteria is introduced into the microscopic crevices on the front of the eye. Acute infection occurs when the saturation levels are beyond the normal eye flushing mechanisms such as tears and blinking or when the strain of bacteria can withstand the eye’s immune system. In short, it is most commonly caused from touching your eye with dirty hands. Bacterial conjunctivitis can be extremely dangerous if left untreated as the infection can penetrate its way deeper into the tissue of the eye. The most common treatment for this form of pink eye is an antibacterial drop or ointment.
Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a similar virus to the common cold. This variant is highly contagious and is often misdiagnosed as bacterial conjunctivitis. Many people suffering from viral conjunctivitis go to a walk-in clinic where they simply aren’t equipped with the proper diagnosing tools. In some cases, patients are prescribed antibiotic drops or ointment which makes the virus more aggressive and worsens the symptoms. Viral conjunctivitis will often run its course with no treatment. In some cases, a doctor can prescribe a steroid drop to help ward off the infection.
Allergic conjunctivitis is unique in that it is not contagious, has less severe symptoms, and will always be present in both eyes at the same time. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by common allergies such as pollen or pet dander. Similar to the thin lining of one’s nose being inflamed with allergies, the same will happen to the thin membrane layer surrounding the outside of the eye. Depending on the severity of the condition, your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops specially formulated to combat allergies.
e you are seen in a timely manner.
What causes pink eye?
Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are caused by the exposure to germs, viruses, microorganisms, dirt, and all sorts of things that we can’t see with the naked eye. Proper hygiene and hand washing are the best preventative measures to avoid getting pink eye. It is also important to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes if possible.
Another huge cause of conjunctivitis is improper cleaning, and overuse of contact lenses. Many contact lens patients are not thorough enough when cleaning, storing, disinfecting and disposing of their soft contact lenses. All it takes is a single microscopic bacteria or virus to be left behind on a contact lens. Insertion and subsequent wear of that infected contact lens can send the risk of pink eye skyrocketing.
How sure are you that your contact lenses are clean? Daily disposable contact lens patients have almost no risk of this type of complication as their lenses are disposed of every day and a new lens is used in the morning. Ask your eye doctor if daily disposable contact lenses are a good option for you.
What is the cure for pink eye?
Call your eye doctor immediately if you think you may have pink eye. If possible, try to avoid a walk-in clinic and any at-home pink eye remedies. Your eye doctor will have the right equipment, staff, and knowledge to quickly diagnose your eyes and bring relief to save any potential long-term damage. If you don’t have an eye doctor, you can find one in your area by visiting www.thinkaboutyoureyes.com and searching your zip code. If you live in the Tampa Florida region, you can click here to call our office and we will make sure you are seen in a timely manner.